Family Life Commissioner
The goal of the Family Life Commission is to promote healthy family relationships and the resulting success of children in all aspects of their lives. Utah PTA believes that the first and most important teacher throughout a child's life is the parent. The Family Life Commissioner aims to provide information and resources for these parents and families as they encounter the challenges of life, with particular emphasis on early childhood and family relationships.
There are currently not any Utah local units enrolled in the 2016-2017 School of Excellence program, and yet we have so many schools doing great things in their PTAs - but it’s not too late! Local PTAs can continue to Enroll before October 1, 2016. Even if you are not sure you want to participate, you can enroll and receive the materials to help better evaluate if you have the capacity to implement the program. If you don’t feel ready this year, start to lay the groundwork now, so that you can participate next year.
Who is the program for? Any PTA who wants to implement best practices for family-school partnerships. You don’t have to see your PTA as “excellent” to get started. If you’re already excellent, this program will make you even better and if your school needs some guidance about how to improve, this program will give it.
What is required? Once you sign up and get your “Getting Started Guide”, you’ll have a clearer picture, but the program will require a survey to get started and then will take your school survey data and provide a “Roadmap to Excellence” to help you implement the most needed aspects of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. At the end of the year, you will complete a follow up survey and then the final application.
What resources will I have? In addition to all the National PTA resources, you will have access to Utah PTA leaders who have participated in this process before, as well the State PTA School of Excellence Library.
Apply Today! Go to www.pta.org/programs and follow the links for School of Excellence.
10 Tips for Organizing a
Souper Bowl of Caring for your school
1. Most high school events are organized by student body leaders, although PTA leaders (Olympus, Skyline) have played large roles and some clubs (Weber High HOSA) have led outstanding events.
2. Most elementary school events are organized by principals and PTA leaders
3. Educate the students, faculty and staff and on the student hunger problem and potential solutions. The Utah Food Bank routinely holds Souper Bowl of Caring presentations and tours. Regional Food pantries have smaller staffs but given lead time they might arrange for presentations and tours as well.
4. CASH NOT CANS. Cash drives are more useful than food drives. Donors pay retail in food drives. The Utah Food Bank can buy $7 of food with just $1 of cash. Cash drives pay for more food. In addition, transportation and distribution are expensive. When you tour the Utah Food Bank you see the truck bays and parking lots and realize sending trucks all over the state is expensive.
5. When should I have the event? Most schools hold week long events leading up to the Super Bowl. Some schools, kickoff the event after the Super Bowl teams are determined and go for the two weeks leading up to the game. What works for you? Juan Diego had a great two-week event that started the week before the game and concluded the week after. One school started right after Christmas break and went thru the entire NFL playoffs.
6. Incentives often energize the student body. One principal agreed to shave his head if the school reached the goal. Another principal agreed to sit on the roof in a snow storm. One school gave the students a short day if they hit the goal. Schools have challenged each other. Please keep it fun. We want people to participate again next year!
7. Recruit local businesses. If they buy banners that hang in the gym or on the fence at football games they are invested in the school. Educate them on the problem and ask them for a donation, or get them to hold an event at their cash register. If twenty businesses donate $500 you have a $10,000 event before the students raise a single dollar. Parents may help you connect to businesses they own or manage.
8. Contact your local grocery stores. The Souper Bowl is the second biggest food consumption day of the year behind only Thanksgiving. The Saturday before the Super Bowl is a huge shopping day. Get permission from the store manager and have groups of students take 2-3 hour shifts, collecting donations in front of the stores all day long. Let shoppers know the money will be staying right in the area and they will probably give more.
9. Email email@example.com and let him know if you are doing something creative or if you have a big total. Some students end up on KUTV 2 News and Talkin’ Sports every year to share their stories and totals.
10. Report your final total by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (after January 20th).
Celebrate your final total. Everything helps.
Start planning for next year’s Souper Bowl of Caring event and break your record!
We know when the whole family is engaged in what the children are doing, the children do better. So school is starting and it’s time to make sure our families feel welcomed at the school. But let’s take this further than “Welcome to Our School” signs posted out front. I am going to share a few of the ideas from the book, “101 Ways to create Family Engagement” by Dr. Steven M. Constantino.
A Welcoming Environment implies that a school has focused efforts on maintaining an atmosphere that is inviting to families and honors their presence.
v Appreciate the culture of your community- Invite families to share their histories and traditions and have them assist in the classroom with projects that help the students learn about those cultures.
v An effective means to building family relationships is to celebrate them. Encourage the teachers to create programs that highlight families. Students can bring pictures of their families in projects that will be displayed in the classroom or halls. Create a bulletin board or hallway as a family celebration area in the school.
v Create a culture of acceptance, openness and value toward all- When dealing with problems at the school, many parents feel that they will only be heard if they are angry. In some ways they are right. We can work with our principals to create and environment where parents are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the education process and come up with solutions to help their students. We also can help our parents understand the best ways to resolve conflict.
v Fabulous Family Feedback- Many businesses in the service field ask for feedback on the service you received. What if our schools asked for feedback on the service families receive when they have visited the schools. When families enter a school they are asked to sign in at the office. Offer them a service response card that they can rate their experience. Question could include:
Did you find what you were looking for?
Were you treated with respect?
Did our staff help you?
Did you get the information you were looking for or solve the problem you hoped to solve?
Won’t it be interesting to see what they say?
Families being welcomed at your school is very important and simple changes can make a huge difference.
2. Take Your Family to School Week - PTA Take Your Family to School Week is just one of the PTA programs revitalizing parent involvement in education. PTA has worked to bring families and schools together since its founding on February 17, 1897. Each local unit should host an event during that week, because research shows that when parents and families are involved, students achieve and have more success in school. There are many resources available to help you run this program. Click on the link below to find FAQs, Event Ideas, Timeline & Planning for the event, and lots of downloadable posters, signs, and commitment cards. Many of these resources are in English and Spanish.
3. Military Family Month (November)
4. Month of the Military Child (April)
6. Parents Empowered Month (January)
7. Child Abuse Prevention Month (April)
8. Family Day: A day to eat dinner with your children - This is a national movement to inform parents that the parental engagement fostered during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance-free. Family Day reminds parents that Dinner Makes A Difference! and National PTA is a partner in this movement.
Complete information and downloadable resources to run this program are available at http://casafamilyday.org.
- WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) - http://www.fathers.com
- All Pro Dad - http://www.allprodad.com
- Real Men Cook/Real Men Charities Inc. - http://www.realmencook.com
- Black Star Project - http://www.blackstarproject.org---
- National Fatherhood Initiative - http://www.fatherhood.org
- Strong Fathers-Strong Families - http://www.strongfathers.com
- National Partnership for Community Leadership - http://www.npclstrongfamilies.com
- Uplift Utah Families- http://www.upliftutahfamilies.org
PTA MORE - Men Organized to Raise Engagement
PTA MORE is a National PTA program, and is a coalition of like-minded organizations that work to ensure greater father and male involvement in programs that support the safety, health, and academic and social development of all children. You can get additional information at http://www.pta.org/pta_more.asp.
Foster Care and Adoption
Utah has an ongoing need for foster and adoptive families. If you would like to educate the families in your school community, or if there are interested families who need more information, contact:
Utah Foster Care Foundation
Toll-free: 877-505-KIDS (5349)
Website: www.utahfostercare.org(link is external)
Utah Adoption Council
P.O. Box 2069
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Website: www.utahadoptioncouncil.com(link is external)
Help Me Grow
Help Me Grow is an information hotline funded through United Way of Utah County that connects parents of children ages 0-8 to community services. The goal of our service is to empower parents with knowledge about their child and give them the tools needed to keep their children developmentally on track. This is done in two ways; first, by providing access to a useful screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, a questionnaire that parents complete for their children to be assured that they are developing properly, and second, by maintaining a growing database of information for all community resources in the county so that when parents contact us, they can be connected to resources appropriate for their situations.
To receive help dial 2-1-1 from a land line and ask for Help Me Grow. (If dialing 2-1-1 from a cell phone, you will be sent to 2-1-1 of the United Way of Salt Lake and will need to be transferred down to the United Way of Utah County office.)
Preschools include children ages 3-5. It is important that a preschool is a quality establishment with a program to address all aspects of the child’s development, including physical, social, emotional, and academic needs. Preschool experiences can provide enrichment activities to promote literacy readiness and social skills.
Preschools offer the opportunity for young children to interact socially with other children their own age and to begin learning and experiencing many different activities which set their pattern for education. Preschools are often a form of child care; however, a quality preschool curriculum consists of the well-rounded components of emotional, social, and academic learning.
Suggestions for PTAs:
A. Make information available on what constitutes a quality preschool.
B. List preschools in your locale.
C. If a preschool is housed within a local school, involve those parents in PTA programs.
D. Help form a Head Start PTA or partnership with Head Start parents and a neighboring school PTA.
Launched in 1965, Head Start has proven to be one of the nation’s most successful social and educational investments. Reaching far beyond the scope of school readiness, Head Start provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and family services to poverty-level children and their families. Local grantees receive federal funding for Head Start (HS), Migrant/Seasonal Head Start (MSHS), and Early Head Start (EHS) programs, the latter serving children from birth to age three and expectant mothers. For more information on Head Start programs please visit: www.uhsa.org.
Suggestions for PTAs:
A. Help form a Head Start PTA or partnership with Head Start parents and a neighboring school PTA.
B. Invite Head Start families to your school activities.
C. Be aware of Head Start activities and attend if appropriate.
D. Consider having a Head Start or Preschool liaison on your board.
Family Education Plan
The Family Education Plan is used to guide parents as they create a plan that will help their children succeed in school.
If your school is not using the FEP, you can access the information at this site and the resources we have linked here.
Check out the new Parent Toolkit(link is external); it's a great place to start!
Forms for your plan are available so you can begin creating your own Family Education Plan.
Contact us with questions and about how we can help you put the Family Education Plan to work at your school.
Ready! Set! School!
Ready! Set! School! provides activities and resources to help parents prepare their pre-schoolers for kindergarten. Parents can be their children's first and best teachers.http://www.readysetschool.org/home/
"Raising Readers" is a new 8-minute video starring parents and their young children. Through common everyday activities, the video shows fun and easy ways to build strong muscles for getting young children ready to read. The video clearly demonstrates listening games and writing tasks that research shows makes a difference in preparing children for reading success. When parents and children watch the film together, the fun and learning begin!
Utah Education Network
The Utah Education Network has many resources for Early Childhood, such as parenting tips, helps for kindergarten readiness and building literacy skills, and information on safety, nutrition, health and fitness for young children.
January is Parents Empowered Month
Parents Empowered.org is a Utah program that aims to eliminate underage drinking in Utah. The website is filled with information for parents on the harms to a child or teen brain, parenting skills, a family guide with tips on setting rules, and other great resources. Publicize this great site all year, but especially in January.
Contact Parents Empowered for assistance with Parent Education Nights and events: parentsempowered.org.
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
Prevent Child Abuse Utah is a non-profit, education agency. Their goal is to educate students, parents, and community members about child abuse in all its forms. Their prevention specialists have a minimum of bachelor level education. Their prevention programs are available to the schools, and all the programs are free of charge. The programs follow the Core Health Curriculum, and the State Office of Education has reviewed and approved all of the programs. Contact PCAU at 1-800-CHILDREN or www.preventchildabuseutah.org. Child Abuse Hotline: 1-855-323-3237.
Take Action Against Bullying
Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. If you know or suspect that your child is involved in bullying, there are several resources that may help.
Recognize the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. They could be being bullied, bullying others, or witnessing bullying. Although these signs could signal other issues, you should talk to your child if they display any sort of behavioral or emotional changes. Many times kids won’t ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for. If your child is at immediate risk of harming himself or others, get help right away.
Connect for Respect
Connect for Respect (C4R) is National PTA’s initiative to help students, parents and educators to create school climates full of safe and supportive peer relationships. For a leaders guide and more information on this program visit www.pta.org/programs.
Learn what bullying is and what it is not. Understanding what bullying is, is the first step in forming a plan to prevent or respond to bullying with your child. Many behaviors that look like bullying may be just as serious, but may require different response strategies. For resources visit: www.stopbullying.gov.